We are back! Close reading into this new year and do Newspapers lie?

Hello everyone! We hope you had a great summer- we did! We are back now for a new school year! We had some really sad changes at the start of the year. Our little school family was broke up- D.J. moved to Florida and Eva is now attending a different school, we miss them everyday and wish them the best ❤ ! On a happier note we have a new family member- welcome Isaiah! We are happy he is with us. Isaiah is a very talented athlete and writer. In fact I.J. (as we call him) is writing his own book! Here is a photo of the new book and our newest class author!

I.J. hard at work writing his book

I.J. hard at work writing his book

Here is the rough draft- when he is done he is going to type it and try to get it published!

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In fact we have all been focusing on writing. This year we all set personal goals and everyone has decided that this is the year of the author!!! Miss B found out this summer that she is having some of her poetry published in an anthology- we are SO EXCITED~~~~~ This has inspired us!

In order to become better writers we need to become better readers. We have been using the CLOSE READ strategy – Miss B plays  a song for us, we listen, then we get the lyrics, listen again and we annotate  and write all over the page. We dissect the song, discover the message and then off the song we write. Sometimes we are given a prompt and sometimes we free write based off our annotations and level of understanding of the text. We use common symbols so we can carry this with us throughout every subject matter. Our comprehension has skyrocketed and we really love this! Here are some photos of us hard at work and our board dedicated to CLOSE READ.

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In a related subject we are learning about informational text. We all love fiction but understand that we need to learn how to gleam understanding  from non fiction texts as well. Miss B wrote a unit that uses newspapers to teach us about how to read, navigate, and understand informational text. We are also learning about awesome topics such as bias, if we can believe everything we read in the papers, and how connections are essential in learning and changing your life for the better. Here are some shots of this in action and a poster we made!

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A new addition to our room is our featured writer of the month wall! Miss B has a new display that shows off our amazing writing! This month our featured author is Isaiah!

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Isn’t his writing superb?!!!!

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Yes- you are reading this correctly! We got another Donors Choose project funded!!!! This one was a gigantic one and affords Miss B the ability to teach art classes to all the 6-7- and 8th grade students! Yep- 150 of us will now get art class!!!!! We have been waiting for this day for as long as we have been at Graham! Come check out our art blog at http://www.grahamschoolgallery.wordpress.com

Until next week- PEACE!

So Much Catching Up To Do- Holocaust Remembered, Trip to Pay Remembrance To and Donors Choose Us Again!

 

Hello!

So much to tell all of you! This month has been a whirl win, we are getting ready to graduate, working on our NWEA testing, final projects of the 4th quarter and going on many amazing learning opportunity outings!

First off we got two more grants funded through Donors Choose!!! This brings us to 4 fully funded projects in less than 3 months! What is even more amazing is that our last 2 projects got funded within hours of being published! We were told that we have some of the fasted funded projects on the site!!!!! Amazing!!!!

Project 3 was titled ” Painting is our Therapy” and we got materials in order to carry out our art and therapy projects, here are some shots of that!

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Our 4th Project was titled “How do you want to be Remembered- Advocate Books”. This one was super cool! We got hardcover books and gel pens and materials needed in order to write and create autobiographies! Here we are holding our books, we are starting them this week and are so excited about this!

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The books are incredible! They are real hardcover books with blank pages and a cover that can be printed, painted and or decorated. We are compiling our stories now!

 

Back in November and December Mrs. B put together an interdisciplinary unit featuring the Holocaust and the Novel NIGHT by Elie Weasel.   You might remember that we have blogged about this in the past. CPS Teaching Framework features non-fiction and what better book than NIGHT? As a wrap up to our unit we had two very special guest speakers. Mrs. and Mr. Meyer. Both are children of Jewish Holocaust survivors! Both were young children during the war and were gracious enough to come visit our class. Here are some shots of their visit in November.

 

 

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We turned our room into the setting of the novel!

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It was an amazing yet sad and sobering visit. We had tears in our eyes listening to their families stories and experiences. We also talked about Genocide and how similar acts of atrocities occur today around the world. We has many outstanding questions and our patient guests answered them and helped us understand. Here is a shot of all of us and the reception we had after the visit.

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Fast forward to this week- we got to finally wrap up our research of the Holocaust with a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Skokie. We have been waiting to go since November! We were buzzing with anticipation the entire bus trip. Once we arrived we were sent through security and Mrs. B explained that the security had to be so stringent because there are still people who like to commit acts of hate. Normally one can’t take photos in the museum but our docent was kind enough to let us snap a few – here are some photos of this amazing place. This was a trip we will never forget. We got to step inside an actual cattle car that had transported Jews into the death camps. There were 20 of us in there and it was cramped and hard to maneuver- we were horrified when we were told the average human numbers were 200-300 Jews per car! This experience brought our research and novel unit full circle- We also discussed that we were meant to attend this trip and become up-standers and not bystanders to life.

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Welcome to Phase One of the Graham Mural Club- Painters, Leaders, and Achievers Crew~

Hello!

Welcome to our page! We are SO excited to be starting the first ever community mural project at Graham School! We have been hard at work locating the place for our first ever mural! We searched the building and decided the perfect place for our first piece would be the second floor right outside of Mr. Moore’s office. There is a lot of traffic with the washrooms right there. Sadly the walls have seen better days. Here are some shots of the walls

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We have been studying why people paint murals and decided that this was the perfect place to spread a message and beautify an area in need of some TLC. We also just found out that the younger grades are going to be joining our building on the second floor so we designed our them on them. The them for phase one is going to be “Growing Great Leaders”. Mrs. Baldocchi and Ms. Bodanyi have agreed to mentor and coach us. Here is a computer sketch of our plan!

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Since we are a neighborhood school we will be painting neighborhood scenes in the roots- since Graham is “rooted” in the neighborhood.

Here are some shots of the primer going on! We are almost ready to paint!

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Finally here is a shot of some of us at our first job site meeting!

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Stay tuned for amazing things!

 

 

Welcome to Phase One of the Graham Mural Crew~ Painters, Leaders and Achievers!

Hello! 

Welcome to our page! We are SO excited to be starting the first ever community mural project at Graham School! We have been hard at work locating the place for our first ever mural! We searched the building and decided the perfect place for our first piece would be the second floor right outside of Mr. Moore’s office. There is a lot of traffic with the washrooms right there. Sadly the walls have seen better days. Here are some shots of the walls

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We have been studying why people paint murals and decided that this was the perfect place to spread a message and beautify an area in need of some TLC. We also just found out that the younger grades are going to be joining our building on the second floor so we designed our them on them. The them for phase one is going to be “Growing Great Leaders”. Mrs. Baldocchi and Ms. Bodanyi have agreed to mentor and coach us. Here is a computer sketch of our plan!

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Since we are a neighborhood school we will be painting neighborhood scenes in the roots- since Graham is “rooted” in the neighborhood. 

Here are some shots of the primer going on! We are almost ready to paint!

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Finally here is a shot of some of us at our first job site meeting!

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Stay tuned for amazing things! 

 

 

Our Author Visit with Lesley Etherly!

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Yes, thats a movie camera set up- yesterday was one of our best days EVER in room 108! We were the first kids ever at Graham to get a personal visit from a Chicago children’s book author, the one and only Lesley Etherly! You may recognize the name, we have been using her book, Baxter the Bully and Maxine the Meanie as part of our anti bullying reading buddies program. Mrs. B and Mrs. E also happen to be good friends and have known each other since Columbia College! We got to have donuts and pastries from our fantastic local bakery as we introduced each other and had a sit down Q and A session with Mrs. E!  Here are some shots of this ( we will tell you about the movie camera in a bit!) 

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Mrs Etherly explaining how she got her ideas and inspiration for her books! ( Her own daughters and wanting to teach them social skills at a young age!) We loved getting to here about her family and life!

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Renell asking her questions! D.J. and Danny listening-

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We got to ask her all about the creative process as well- here are some shots of us discussing the writing process and how you can put your ideas to work for you!

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After we talked to was time to get  down to business!!! Mrs. E brought her recording equipment in and filmed us reading her books. Each one of us read 2 lines from each book and she is going to cut and loop it together so it looks like a continuous movie! We are hoping to use this video footage to get these amazing books into CPS! We are also all getting copies of it and keeping it for our digital memory collection! Special thanks to DeJuan who was an awesome sound tech! 

Here is photos of the equipment! Mrs. Etherly’s hushand is a film maker so they have GORGEOUS equipment, We transformed our room into a set! It was so cool making a movie in our room! 

 

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Sweet , right?!?

Here we are setting up the room

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We also learned that the mic was super high tech and picked up the smallest of sounds so we learned the term “Quiet on set”

Here we are waiting to read and watching our peers get filmed! 

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Here we are hard at work creating the collaborative reading film! 

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This was such an amazing experience to get to film with the author who wrote the books we have been using!!!! After filming we were interviewed about bullies in our life. We also took a photo of each of us with Mrs. Etherly!

After lunch our third grade buddies came down to meet Mrs. E and she read us her books- this was fun!!!! Check out how much fun our buddies had- BTW they asked even BETTER questions than we did 🙂

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We loved our visit with this very special person- it is days like this that makes us want to reach out and increase our plan to help others! Thank you for everything Lesley Etherly! 

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Close Reading with John Lennon and Our Buddies Teach Us a Lesson!

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We have so many amazing things going on that we are going to be doing 2 or 3 updates this week!

First off we have been faithfully implementing the “close read” strategy in our room. Close Read teaches you to think more critically about what you read. We love it!!! In order to spice things up Mrs. B uses a lot of songs for this strategy. To date we have been using current songs and rap but since we have been focused on pro-social behavior and anti-bullying we used one of Mrs. B’s favorite songs, Imagine by John Lennon- here are some shots of this!

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DSC00021 DSC00022 DSC00023 DSC00024After analyzing the song using annotation and discussion we decided that this short song packed a HUGE message. Here are some shots of us “picking apart” the lyrics ( above)

This week we worked hard planning our lesson plan for session 3 of our “Anti Bullying Reading buddies” – We are taking this very seriously and set up a lesson plan book like Mrs. B!

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We based this week’s lesson off of Aesop’s Fable- “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. This week we decided to switch it up by making board games based off the game “Shoots and Ladders” Here are some shots of us working on our “Honesty Game of Snakes and Ladders”

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So we got up to the room and guess what? Our buddies had a surprise for us!!!! They designed a lesson for us- we got to learn how to make friendship bracelets! We were more than happy to hold off on our plan and learn how to make the bracelets!!! Our buddies taught us the weaving technique – it was harder than it looked!!!! Our buddies were amazing teachers- here are some shots of us in action!

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We had the BEST week and can’t wait to tell you about our special guest- until next time- peace!!!

Christmas in March- Our New Camera Came!!!!!!

We HAD to stop by and let you know that our new camera and camera equipment came today!!!! Thank you to the kind and amazing folks that make up donors choose- again you can find them at http://www.donorschoose.org. Please check out the amazing projects teachers all over the country have posted! 

We almost cried when our box came! It was like Christmas in March! Here is a shot of the big moment!!!

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We got really nervous because the outer box looked like it had been to war!!!! Luckily our equipment was unhurt! Here is shot of some of us opening up the box. 

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We were SO HAPPY!!!!!! What was even cooler was that the bundle package that came with the camera had TONS of extras!!!!! We have everything we need to take it out of the box and shoot!!!! This week Mrs. B will be giving us lessons and then – watch out world!!!! We now have a camera again ( an amazing professional grade one) and a video camera- stay tuned for more!!!

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Our help in helping bring “Baxter and Maxine to CPS” – A mission!!!!

Hi everyone!!! We are on to BIG things in room 108!!!! This week we have been rocking the ISAT test and EVERYONE has been present and came on time. Tomorrow we are going to celebrate in style 🙂 Meanwhile………..

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We are in absolute love with Lesley Etherly’s books, Baxter the Bully and Maxine the Meanie. They are fantastic books that are accessible to readers of all levels, have enriching vocabulary, a pro-social  message and there is even a glossary of terms and processing sheet in the back! Perfect teaching tools books, plus it doesn’t hurt that the illustrations are STUNNING!!!! They use color and shading to capture even the most reluctant reader! Our third grade buddies adore them as much as we do! We want Mrs. Etherly to hurry up and write more! We have really enjoyed writing our ” Banish Bullying through Education” curriculum using these books as our anchor texts. We are noticing HUGE changes with our own behavior and attitudes in school as well as our third grade buddies since we started our visits 🙂 We love teaching and reaching out and would love for others to be able to do the same. Mrs. Etherly also has her own publishing house called Inkspil books- you can check them out at inkspil.com! Since Mrs. B and Mrs. E have been friends since college we get the AMAZING opportunity to have her come visit us on March 17th!!!! We are super excited and can’t wait.! Mrs. Etherly also has a background in community activism and grass roots movements, one of the projects she is working on is getting her books into Chicago Public Schools! We fully support her and feel there is a serious need for books with an anti bullying  message. 

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We have worked with Mrs. B for three years to realize, through art and social skill instruction, that change only and must come from within. There are a lot of people who spew jargon about how you erase bullying at schools, but sometimes the only way to make -and see progress- is to get down to the bare issues, be real with yourself , and say the uncomfortable truth-change only happens through hard work, persistence, and modeling the change you want to see in others. This is especially true with youth. You can package programs and make them look fancy ( and expensive) but they are only as good as the paper they are printed on if no one believes in the message and “walks the walk”. Kids learn best by being taught by other kids! Yes- we know this sounds crazy and counterintuitive but it’s true. Sometimes an adult can say something 100 times and you don’t get it but your friend tells you and you do! We are social creatures and rely on this in order to survive. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day”TEACH A MAN TO FISH AND YOU FEED HIM FOR A LIFETIME.” You can give someone the tools to behave- but if they don’t practice them and know how to use them – you are only giving them a “quick fix”. If you teach them and show them how to apply these tools ( and why this is important) – this is how you change your community. 

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Thinking about your thinking (Metacognition) is important! This applies to teaching others to not bully! This is why we are on this mission- if we had learned this at a younger age we could have saved ourselves a lot of heartache. We also feel that you need to leave the world a better place than how you found it- no matter what! This is why we will help work to bring these awesome books to Chicago Public Schools, EVERY CHILD NEEDS ANOTHER CHILD TO HELP THEM ERASE BULLYING!!!!! 

From a ‘meanie’ to a ‘sweetie’ and Donors Choose us!!!!!

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This week some of our buddies let us know that some bullying was still occurring in the 3rd and 4th grades. We decided that we really needed to get a plan together to address this sooner than later! We choose the book ‘Maxine the Meanie’ by our favorite author – Lesley Etherly! This week we started our planning by talking about what was awesome about our last session and what we wanted to tweak to keep making Reading Buddies better. We loved the projects and decided that this week we would break into groups after reading the book and make and perform a play . We decided that our friends love art so we also planned to make an ABS book of kindness. We worked all week to make our play ‘Turning from a meanie to a sweetie’ Special shout out to Fabian for publishing the play! Here is a shot of us practicing 

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We choose the students who showed the BEST behavior during last week’s session! 

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We started our session out by reviewing the skills we worked on last week- Fabian also talked to our buddies about how they feel they are being treated. Many of us reported having a great week and some us wanted to work some more on our kindness skills. Then we read the book – here is a shot of that!

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Check out the AMAZING listening skills our buddies have! As usual Mrs. Etherley’s books do not disappoint- they are fantastic and have some of the most STUNNING illustrations! Kids of all ages adore these books.

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After the book we discussed it’s message and then it was GO TIME!!!! Our very first play!!!! Here are some shots of us performing for the group- we were nervous but aced the play! We think we need to write more 🙂

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We got a standing ovation! After the play we introduced our next activity- the ABC Book of Kindness- every one of use took a group of 3-5 third graders and and we choose a letter of the alphabet . We had to create a kindness sentence that fits with the letter we choose. It was not easy but turned out so GREAT!!!!! Our buddies loved the group set up and going into the hall to work! Here are some shots of us hard at work! 

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You might be noticing the great photos we have been getting – we do not have a camera of our own- our Assistant Principal has been nice enough to loan us his personal camera since Mrs. B’s is broken. We really need a camera of our own since we take pictures often – some teachers that Mrs. B knows suggested we write a proposal for a grant for a camera on this great site called Donors Choose. You can find them at http://www.donorschoose.org. Mrs. B worked with us over 2 lunch periods and she read us what she wrote- we agreed with it and submitted our request. It got approved!!!! What is even better is that 100 Women in Hedge Funds sponsored us and decided to match donations dollar for dollar. In 24 hours we were fully funded by 5 donors and got our camera!!!!! It was an amazing and heart warming experience – the world is full of generous and kind strangers. We are making out thank you notes now- here are some shots of our page and our AWESOME sponsor! 

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Soon we will have our very own class camera!!!! We are also working on one more request in order to get the art supplies needed to make  anti-bullying murals with our buddies. We have already contacted the police station and library and they would love to house the finished works!!!! We are on a mission here in our room!!!!! Until next time- PAY IT FORWARD!!!!

Reading Buddies and Paying it Forward- one day at a time!

We are back! Sorry to be gone so long- we have been swamped but are back to update you on all the wonderful things that we have been doing 🙂 After holiday break we made resolutions for the new year. Since we are a “go big of go home” group we decided we were going to try to change the world for the better- one day at a time. This started our “pay it forward” initiative. Mrs. Baldocchi started the challenge off by showing us a movie about a boy who changed his world around after deciding change comes from within. We made a pact that we would do 3 things for 3 people and in lieu of payment and or thanks we would ask those 3

people to pay it forward to 3 more people. We did the math- it gets huge fast!!!! Check it out!!

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Mrs. B started off our journey with a question- “Can just one person change the world?” We think so- here is the board that we created in order to document our experiences with “paying it forward”! 

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Then- as if the world knew what we were up to- Mrs. B’s friend, Lesley Etherly, sent us free copies of her newest children’s books! She is a Chicago author who writes pro- social books for young children. We read them and decided we were going to adopt the third grade and teach them lessons on bullying! We call them our “reading buddies” This week was our first lesson using the book “Baxter the Bully”. Check it out 

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We took Mrs. B up on the challenge to create, design, and plan a lesson plan. We worked for a week planning and practicing and decided that teacher’s have a ton of work planning lessons! 

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D.J. Making sure everyone was differentiating the lesson! 

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Precious after she admitted that lesson planning was no easy task! 

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Fabian and Tiffany talking about projecting your voice. 

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Renell practicing her part of the lesson. 

Then Friday came around and we were ready to roll! We walked into a room of 50 third graders! The pressure was on!

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Here are some shots of us reading- our audience was amazing! We brought our class fish Nemo and told the kids that they must have Nemo in order to talk- they did wonderful! 

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Our buddies loved the book and had great ideas about how they could help stop bulling at school and in their community. 

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We ended up our lesson with a culminating activity to enforce the lessons of the book- we made a mural with our buddies!!!! We traced our hands and took a pledge to be better people. Inside our hands we wrote how you can be a better person and what you can do to end bullying! Here are some shots of us hard at work creating the mural. Check out the great messages!!!!

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Didn’t they do an awesome job! Here is a shot of all of us in front of our masterpiece. We hung the mural on the third floor so everyone can see our message!

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Check us out next post to see and hear all about our Holocaust unit!